Gotye at Nautica, er, Lakewood High School

"Somebody I Used To Know" was at full viral fever level when tickets went on sale this spring.  We paid Ticketbastard, err, Live Nation $50 plus $13 fees per ticket for two decent seats, assuming it would sell out fast.  Evidently it didn't, because they ended up playing on a stage that normally hosts talent shows featuring pimply jugglers.

Our first clue was that several weeks ago Groupon offered tickets at half price.  Consternated would describe my reaction.

Our next clue was not when we went to Live Nation's website and downloaded and printed out the tickets on the day of the event - nope, the site and tickets said Nautica.  Nor did we receive an email - they might have sent one, but apparently as far as our spamfilter is concerned, Live Nation's credibility is comparable to that of ads for discount pharmaceuticals.  No, our next clue came when we were looking for other bands to see, and we stumbled upon a second concert listing for Gotye, on the same day, in a different venue.  *rolls eyes*

What happened?  Did Nautica get sick and have to stay home?  Did Lakewood make them an offer they couldn't refuse?  Based on the attendance we saw (a whole lot of people sitting in cheaper seats behind us, and about 50% butts in the more expensive seats in front of us) Nautica would've been empty.  My guess is that Nautica charges the band a lot of money for the privilege of playing there, and the band moved to Lakewood to cut costs.

We had seats either way.  Lakewood's were even padded, though the amount of kneeroom they provided would have shamed a Third World airline.  And no beer.  That's right, I remember now, THERE'S NO BEER IN HIGH SCHOOLS.

So, the show:  the sound was quite good - I could even understand the lyrics, which is rare.  I enjoyed almost all the music (but see below).  They had captivating video material going on a movie-sized screen at the back of the stage; they must have had several artists make videos to play along with the songs.  They played "Somebody I Used To Know" with the female part sung by the lead singer of the opening act, because Gotye is estrogen deficient.  The only significant negative was the spotlights slashing across my retinas repeatedly.  Seriously, guys, that's obnoxious.  For a couple songs I didn't dare open my eyes.  I can still remember my field of vision filling with peach-pink as the glare burned through my eyelids.

If Gotye reminds me of a band, it's Talking Heads, in their heyday of quirky pop and suspension-of-disbelief lyrics.  Gotye used instruments ranging from up-to-the-minute (programmable touchscreens like those pioneered recently by Bjork) to historical (the Suzuki Omnichord from the mid-80s).  There was a lot of percussion.  They were literally tripping over drums on that stage.

The videos got me thinking.  They were in time with the music, so that could mean they perform the songs exactly the same way every time - or that they brought the videographers along with them to tweak the videos when they want to change the way they play a song.  A lot of bands do use road trips to refine their songs, and this would prevent Gotye from doing that.  Or, it could mean that the videos were in short pieces, and the pieces were triggered by one of those up-to-the-minute tabletty things.  (Which is yet another job the keyboardist has to do.)  That would allow them to rearrange the songs at will.

But, as I mentioned, I only enjoyed *almost* all the music.  The last three songs of the encore were something different entirely.  By that point, I had gotten used to Gotye's brand of weird, so when the home stretch was really ordinary instead, I was completely thrown.  It was major-key crowdpleasing arena rock.  It was like the '80s Top 40 came back to life for fifteen minutes.  And the crowd loved it.  Alice turned to me and actually asked if our intelligence was being insulted.  I said no, but I wasn't sure I wanted to find out what came next.

And then the show was over.  What a trip.